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Council Member Spotlights: Lance Bolton, Kathay Rennels and David Card

By Matthew Telles

In early May, Regional Fellows interviewed a Regional Council Member in each of our featured regions to learn more about their unique work in education institutions along the Front Range: Metro Regional Council Member David Card, President of Regis Jesuit High School, North Regional Council Member, Kathay Rennels, Interim Vice-President of the CSU Office of Engagement and Extension and Pikes Peak Regional Council Member Lance Bolton, President of Pikes Peak State College.

Pikes Peak Regional Council Member Lance Bolton:

In 2022, Pikes Peak Community College underwent a significant transformation and officially became Pikes Peak State College (PPSC). Lance Bolton, President of PPSC, described that the change was driven by the desire to expand the college’s reach beyond El Paso County to better serve students from Teller County, Elbert County and the entire Pikes Peak region. With more than 250 students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs, the new name reflects the evolving educational offerings and the aspirations of students aiming for a seamless transition into their chosen professions.

As PPSC actively responds to severe workforce shortages in various fields, the college introduced new programs to meet the demand for skilled professionals in healthcare, construction and other industries. Notably, a bachelor’s degree program in paramedicine was launched to provide paramedics with opportunities for advancement at little to no cost. By addressing critical workforce needs, PPSC aims to contribute to the growth and prosperity of the community.

A groundbreaking development at PPSC is the introduction of zero-cost credentials. House Bill 1246, signed by Governor Polis, enables PPSC to cover the full cost of attendance for programs in healthcare, early childhood education, the law enforcement academy, firefighting and construction. This initiative can cover the cost of tuition, fees, uniforms and other related expenses for any student enrolled in an eligible program. By alleviating financial barriers, PPSC is making education more accessible and addressing severe workforce shortages in high-need industries.

On Saturday, May 13, PPSC hosted its graduation for the Class of 2023 and President Bolton shares that his inspiration to continue serving his students is rooted in the joy of each student who crossed the stage. The venue was filled with “yelling, hollering and celebration since most of our students are first-generation. These students have overcome challenges and long odds to accomplish what they have done.” PPSC undoubtedly changes the trajectory of its students’ lives in meaningful ways.

North Regional Council Member Kathay Rennels:

At Colorado State University (CSU), the Office of Engagement and Extension plays a vital role in building partnerships for regional and rural economic improvement throughout Colorado. As a land-grant institution, CSU has offices and research centers reaching every county in the state. Kathay Rennels, Interim Vice President of the Office of Engagement and Extension, highlights the importance of the land-grant mission and the trusted relationships they have established with various stakeholders across the state.

Recently, the CSU Office of Engagement and Extension has been instrumental in supporting workforce development partnerships. For example, Campus Connections aims to connect social work students with at-risk children and families. Additionally, the office created 100 paid internships, matching students with businesses across Colorado, providing valuable work experience and often resulting in employment opportunities. Kathay also shares her pride for the success of the Rural Initiative, which focuses on leadership development, civil and democratic dialogue, and programs like Juntos 4-H which is specifically tailored for the Hispanic community.

Workforce development is a priority for CSU, and it recognizes the need to adapt to the rapidly changing job market. The Sturm Collaboration Campus, in partnership with K-12 school districts, community colleges and CSU campuses, offers opportunities for students to obtain certificates that align with industry needs. The program emphasizes the importance of allowing individuals to step away from education to work before returning to acquire specialized certificates.

When discussing student engagement across urban and rural landscapes, Kathay emphasized the uniqueness of rural communities and the need to recognize and value their contributions. CSU’s commitment to outreach and recognition that rural and urban areas are not divided but interconnected ensures that every individual’s needs are met and that collaboration between diverse communities is fostered.

Kathay shares that her experience growing up in a close-knit, small community fostered her interest in making genuine connections with others. In her words, “It is not just the knowledge of who you know, but rather the understanding of what you have and what you can give others.” Kathay highlights that her work has been twice as rewarding because of the time, care and connections she has made with others across Colorado. She continues to be a driving force in fostering partnerships and addressing the needs of communities across the state. Her commitment to education, outreach and workforce development ensures that students and communities thrive together.

Metro Regional Council Member David Card:

Aurora, Colorado is home to Regis Jesuit High School, a Catholic institution rooted in the nearly 500-year old tradition of Jesuit education. David Card, President of Regis Jesuit High School (RJHS) explains that the school is dedicated to forming men and women with and for others who dedicate their thoughts, words and actions to the greater glory of God, exemplifying the purpose of a Jesuit education.  In addition to its college-preparatory instruction, the school’s unique model allows students to immerse themselves in service opportunities, engage in faith formation through academic study and retreats, and participate in various co-curricular activities that allow them to explore their passions and talents. The goal is to prepare students to be leaders who serve communities, both large and small.

Recently, RJHS embarked on its Inspire and Ignite 2025 Strategic Vision. This vision focuses on innovation and hands-on problem-solving opportunities for students. The school’s new Science and Innovation Center will provide students with state-of-the-art facilities for subjects such as rocket science, robotics and entrepreneurship. Through these experiences, students will develop critical thinking skills and engage in projects that promote forming right relationships with humanity and the natural world.

As an alumnus from the Class of 1987, David explains the service opportunities granted to him through RJHS planted the seed for him to serve students. After experiencing the Class of 2023’s graduation, David was reminded that when students are given the opportunity to develop themselves holistically, they can share their gifts more fully with their communities. RJHS is committed to ensuring that families who desire a Jesuit education can access it. The school offers significant financial aid, with approximately one in three students receiving assistance. David expresses that “Economic diversity is valued, and the school aims to make a Regis Jesuit education accessible to a wide range of students.”

From the appreciation he holds for his parents who provided him a high-quality education, to being the first non-Jesuit president of the high school, David Card explains that he is humbled everyday through his work and pays gratitude to all who have paved the path for him.

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